It’s funny, the things one remembers from college. I went to Northern Michigan University in Marquette and I remember little about my studies and nothing about my professors, with the exception of Jerry Cushman and Phillip Legler. Jerry Cushman was my big crush – my gay, modern dance teacher who choreographed the troupe, writhing on dusty floors and chucking animal blood to Beethoven, a la A Clockwork Orange. Dr. Leggler was the professor who used to lock the door to his shabby, poet-in-residence office whenever I came by. He was Anne Sexton’s lover right before she poured a glass of vodka, shut the door to her garage and started the car…
But I don’t want to talk bout my college crushes. Or dead poets. I want to talk about Barflies. In the town of Marquette there is a bar on every corner. Our favorite was on the edge of town, next to the train tracks. I don’t remember the name, I don’t even think it’s there anymore, but it’s where I learned to drink and play pool. We all know how good I am at drinking. Ask Jon Jon about my obnoxious, uber-skill at billiards (he will not play me).
Now you know why I have little recollection of my studies.
Let’s call this bar The Alibi. It was nestled near a soup kitchen and a flop house, which was convenient for most of its patrons. I was underage and no one seemed to care. It is the first place I ever saw people wait outside at 10 AM for a bar to open. It is the first place I ever saw a woman fall off a bar stool. I remember it in snippets: emerald green, old maps, deer heads, dark roots in platinum hair, B.O., scarred pine, beer nuts, blue chalk in paper…
Recently, Rosalind wrote me a comment about how pitiful women over 40 look when they’re drunk. It reminded me of Marquette and The Alibi. The Alibi is the first place I ever saw those women of a certain age who sit at one end of the bar, lipstick a little smeared, a smokers rattle, “flirting” with the guys. I call them BARFLIES. Is it sexist that I think of the word as feminine? If so I don’t care.
To me, a barfly is a woman who’s life did not turn out the way she expected. She sees herself in the flattering scrim of a wine glass reflection. She’s a triple bagger, coyote ugly and a sure thing (nudge, nudge – wink, wink).
Ladies, DO NOT let this happen to you.