Gunter and I spent our lethargic Sunday morning wiping the sticky streaks of grenadine, beer and olive juice off the bar from the Saturday night before. With the construction to widen Gay Street, it was unlikely we’d see many customers or make much more than our base pay of five dollars an hour. I never minded this, because Gunter and I got along, and sometimes it was nice to have a non-chaotic shift at the bar. I leisurely made the coffee and iced tea, while he dragged the heavy, metal furniture to the patio. The grating and clanging quickly overtook the sounds of Pigpen setting up the kitchen for the day. We unburdened the chair-laden tables of their precariously balanced charges, and with little else left to do, took our time placing the menus and silverware on each table.
With no indication that customers may show up anytime soon, I had ample time for coffee and eggs and toast. So I sat in the gangster booth enjoying my breakfast while I perused the day’s crossword puzzle and Gunter flipped through the free weeklies. After an hour of crosswording, chatting with Gunter about his boyfriend and college football (his two favorite topics besides books), one of our regulars came in. He was a favorite customer; low-maintenance, interesting conversationalist, had little variance in his drink choices, and we knew that he would tip at least $10, even if he only had one Absolut and grapefruit on the rocks.
I walked out of the kitchen with the rest of the clean glassware, and saw four figures enter and stand at the end of the bar. I could tell they were from Faith Mission, the nearby shelter, as I’d seen two of the guys and the woman trying to bum cigarettes from our lunchtime customers. Gunter greeted them, and asked if they’d like a table. The woman said that she wanted to sit outside and smoke, the men agreed, and they ordered their drinks.
“I’ll take uh PBR tawl boy,” said the first man, “make it two,” said the second.
“Just g’wan and make it three,” added the third man.
Gunter asked the woman if she’d also like a PBR. She deferred and ordered a cola. In spite of himself, I think, Gunter’s fine-dining background kicked in, and as he pulled the cans out of the beer cooler, he asked the men, “Would you gentlemen like glasses for your beers?”
I poured the woman’s cola and tried not to laugh at the question. To my surprise, the second man accepted the glass. The woman turned to him and sneered, “What kinda man are you thet you cain’t drenk yer beer out of a can?”
He glared at her for a moment, then leaned at her and said, “Listen here li’l lady, this here is Manland, and you’ll speak when yer spoken to.”
it was this whole experience that gave me the title for what will probably be my first book…”lesbians in manland”