“Best bar around, only one worth drinking in,” he said, and grinned, a wiry kid with a few days growth of dark beard. “My brother's the bartender. Come on, let's go in and I'll buy you a drink.”
“Dogs allowed in?”
“Absolutely. Bring Wilbur, but I'm putting Clyde in my car.”
Dick's Place was a simple narrow joint established in the early 1930s, and in it were the kind of people I've drank with all my life—work clothes, beards, the women smoking cigarettes, a guy down on the end shirtless but for a vest, very long hair, and cowboy hat on top—sort of a barroom General Custer look alike. Gabriel, my new friend, introduced me to Zebulon, or Zeb, his brother, and I had a Pacifico while Wilbur made the rounds, charming the women, shoving his snoot in their laps.
“What a beautiful old Chesapeake,” said one woman. “I've had Chesapeakes all my life.”
“He's not all Chesapeake,” I explained. “He's got same chocolate in him.”
“He's a Chesapeake,” she maintained. “You can tell by his coat.”
No use explaining. She left. A tall rangy guy in stained work clothes with short hair and a short reddish beard in the middle of the bar had a beer and shot of something brown in a rock glass. He nodded at me. There was about ten people in the bar. He mentioned that Trump should be shot in the head, and Zeb said, “No talk about politics. Not in here.”
We all nodded. Gabe and I began talking about Mendocino. He was born and raised here, and said that although his parents had a home here, he couldn't afford it, had purchased 400 acres of land an hour and a half inland beside a river, beautiful forest country, and he was building a home there. He took out his camera/ phone and showed me the nearly complete structure, which I admired, and said so, especially since I can't hammer in a nail properly. He said he had a small boat and liked to go fishing with his dog and just lazily float down the river on his back, and I told him there was nothing more relaxing and pleasant as floating down a river, and told him of my working on the Delta Queen on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers as ships storekeeper, and how I'd spend hours on the gangway roosting in the sun and watching the country flow by, and it was totally isolated from the real world, like floating up the underbelly of the earth.
I finished my beer and ordered a vodka rocks and bought Gabe another drink, though he had to leave, he being a man who raised sea urchins and worked with sea urchin fishermen and exported sea urchins to Japan and China.
“What do they want with sea urchins?” I asked.
“They eat them. They're a delicacy over there, but they taste horrible.” He showed me a picture of sea urchins on his camera/phone, ugly spiky things, like nebulous porcupines.
“They're ugly,” I observed.
“They're gross, man, and they taste terrible.”
“How can they eat them?”
He shrugged. “Those people, I guess they have different appetites. We don't eat them.” He showed me another picture of a sea urchin after it had been de-spiked, skinned and cleaned.
“It looks like a pile of shit,” I observed.
“Exactly, and they taste like shit, and they pay an unbelievable fortune for 'em.”
“Those crazy fuckers pay exorbitant prices for something that tastes like shit? Interesting.”
“I don't care. It's a good living for me if those people want to eat something that looks like a pile of shit and tastes like shit.”
I was getting a good buzz and Gabe and I began discussing things like both of us being shortstops in baseball since Little league and hating the way all the little beach towns from San Diego clear up to here were being priced out of the market for working class people and occupied and gentrified by people who really didn't want to talk to you. He also maintained this establishment, Dick's Place, had never been altered one bit and was a meeting place for those who had been born and raised here and couldn't stand the sight of the newly gentrified occupation of precious snotty self-pampering millionaires and billionaires.
Meanwhile, the guy with the beard was on his phone. A woman in the corner up front of the bar, a stool over from me, had a fluffy white dog on her lap, and Wilbur shoved his nose up on her knee and the little ball of fluff cringed in fear.
“Wilbur's harmless,” I said.
“He's very cute,” she answered.
Her friend made a face, obviously offended at Wilbur switching his nose to her knee and inching up, tail wagging. I pulled him away and sat him down on the other side of me. These were younger women who possibly wanted nothing to do with me and Wilbur as aged and unruly specimens, myself expounding on a lot of negative viewpoints.
The big dude, who's name I didn't get, closed his phone and sidled over and somehow we got into a conversation on ancestry, since he was Irish, and, since I'd been to Ireland twice, I told him he looked like he might be from Cork, since a lot of redheads were derived from and still resided there. But then he claimed he wasn't really Irish, because he had done an in depth study on ancestral origins and discovered that around 2000 years ago the Norwegians waged war and infiltrated northern France and Ireland, and whats more they were “red-headed Norwegians,” which was why so many French people from Normandy and Brittany were red-headed, and also why southern Ireland had a lot of redheads, and so he really wasn't Irish, though he had an Irish name, but was a Norwegian, or half Norwegian, according to his studies, and I mentioned that yes, I had been to Normandy and Brittany and indeed noticed a lot of fair skinned redheaded people, and it occurred to me that this guy, who had already told me he was a laborer, good with his hands, painter, construction,etc, was a bit of a deceiving enlightened person, even if he did see fit to have Trump shot in the head.
In fact, as he went on, he seemed to know a lot about a lot of subjects, and was having a good time educating me, and I was about to share with him my 10 days in Ireland, where I took no camera, went to no castles or churches, attended only pubs and possibly made more friends and had more fun than any American who had ever visited Ireland, when his camera/phone went off and he went outside to sit on a curb and have an animated conversation, leaving his beer and still untouched shot on the bar.
At this point I was on the verge of having another vodka and getting joyously drunk and destroying my day, and would have done so if Gabe didn't have to attend to his sea urchin business and the bar hadn't emptied out save for the two women with little frightened dogs on laps who didn't want a thing to do with me or Wilbur, who was again nudging their knees with his snoot, in search of I don't know.
I shook hands with Gabe and Zeb and walked out into the saffron sunshine and decided to take a stroll through town and look at homes I could not afford in ten lifetimes and an array of old wooden well-preserved water towers seemingly everywhere.
Nothing like good bar conversation in the middle of the day and a golden buzz not extended into oblivion by inherent stupidity.