The Indie Pedant

Stories and observations from the bars, taverns and pool halls of the American Midwest.

“People been talking shit about you, man.”

I had just walked in to JB’s for a pint and a game of pool but Ankle Monitor John was intent on being the first person to dish this gossip. I shrugged. “So? I don’t give a shit, John.” I already knew what he was talking about: an incident involving one of my former pool hall acquaintances, a goofy but nice guy I shoot stick with a couple days each month. 

A few weeks back, I asked Goofy to discreetly hook me up with a little smoke until I could procure a new stash for myself. I prefer not to ask favors of acquaintances, but three or four times over the past year he had asked me for this particular favor and I was happy to oblige, so I figured a likewise gesture in return was a safe play. He said no problem, then he informed me the price would be $40. I stared at him a long second, wondering if he might recall my previous pro-bono work on his behalf. When I realized this was not going to happen, I reached in my pocket, peeled off two twenties, and we continued to play pool. A few hours later, when I got home, I deleted his phone number from my contacts list. It wasn’t out of spite. I was simply under the impression that we were, you know, cool like that. Apparently, I misread the situation. No sweat, I just don’t need to be texting buddies with someone who doesn’t know how to return a favor in proper form. No ill-will, really, it’s just that sometimes you have to cut the fat from your life, define more clearly: friend, foe, or just some guy I play pool with when we run into each other at the same bar. Of those, a friend is the only one you do a favor for. It seems though that Goofy’s idea of a “favor” is to hound me for weeks about getting the tip of my pool cue refurbished until I let him help me. “My guy can do it, he’s our team captain. He did all of mine. Out of his garage. He’ll buff the shaft and everything.” “Ooh, do I have to pay extra for that?” I said, wiggling my right eyebrow for flirty affect. Week after week, while chain smoking and scarfing candy with his non-alcoholic beers, Goofy would implore me to take his advice. “I can take it to him at our next league match. I’ll have it back to you in a week or two.” After much insistence, I took him up on the offer. Things didn’t go that easily, of course, but after a few weeks, I had my stick back. Immediately, the impact of the high-quality leather tip against the cue ball was apparent. It was worth the money - it was even worth the extra money Goofy “secretly” overcharged me on top of the actual cost. The thing about people who smoke too much weed and talk too much is that they tend to repeat themselves, which is fine in a social setting where I’m not really listening. But they also tend to forget some of the things they’ve told you. Like how much it costs to get a pool stick repaired by a guy in a garage. The very first time he mentioned it, Goofy said it would be about $35. I suggested we make it an even $40 since he would be helping me out. He never mentioned price again to me until the day he brought the stick to the bar. As I looked it over, he slipped me a very, very, very small and light plastic baggie. 

All told, I gave him $100. $60 for the stick, $40 for crumbs and stems. I'm bad at math and even I can see that equals $60 straight profit for Goofy. 

And the fucker didn’t even buff my shaft.


Later that night


The bathroom at Irish Steve’s bar has one urinal, one toilet, and a sink. If you are washing your hands at the sink, the door to the restroom swings inward directly against your spine. As I enter, a fella is at the stand-up pisser so I take the stall. “Good thing there’s two of these in here” I say into the acrid ether. “Ain’t we lucky.” my pee-pal says. A thought occurs. “I guess if we’re desperate, there’s actually three pissers.” We share a chuckle, like old time chums. Right before he flushes, I hear him say, “Hey though, if you’re gonna piss in the sink you gotta remember to take out the dishes.”

I start laughing so hard I have to pinch off the stream. I’m still laughing when I hear ol’ boy yelp as the bathroom door whacks him in the back. In charges a hoss, racing against the alcohol suppressing the vasopressin which governs bladder control.

We cheer the new guy when he sighs in relief, having spilled nary a drop of his urine or the beer he was carrying, which he is now chugging. Ah, the circle of life. Don’t ask me how he got it all out and situated with only the other hand to spare. Maybe he’s an alien, maybe he’s a superhero. Sometimes, it’s better to just flush these questions down past the pink urinal cake, wash your hands and buy that bar bathroom beast another cold beer.

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