Tuesday, March 14, 2023



Honor Bar is ripe at 5:57 on a Saturday, patio floorshow by the fireplace underway, the cliques of mellow Montecito prancing around one another.

I prefer the bar, horseshoe shaped, a trough for thirsty folk after a long day of doing nothing.

Piker’s already got two stools, one for him, one for me. And he’s still drinking water, sticking to budget. 

I order a Botanist martini, stirred not shaken, dash of Vermouth, dirty, cheese-stuffed olives.

Down the bar Huckleberry is hooked up to a vodka IV, snapping another selfie with a looker half his age.

“Any news on your girlfriend, Piker?” (The gal he hasn’t seen in three-and-a-quarter years but thinks is a thing.)

“Yeah.” He scoffs.  “Some guy wrote an ode to her and posted it on her Facebook page.”

“An infatuation?”

“No, there’s more to it. Before that she posted a picture of him with her pet pig.”

“She has a potbellied micro-pig?”

“Nah, a real pig.”

“Sounds like breakfast. So this guy is part of her life—along with the pig?”

“No, I don’t accept that.” Piker’s bristly body language implies vehemence. “She deleted the stupid ode because she thought I’d see it."

“But you saw it anyway.”

“I’m too quick for her.”

“You think she took it down because of you?”

“Of course.”


“Hmm,” I mumble. “Ideas of Reference.


“Personalizing stimuli. What does your shrink say about that?”

“He agrees with whatever I say.”

“Nothing like an agreeable shrink.” I moisten my lips with salty gin. “How’s the book coming?” I’d instructed Piker to write a book titled My Fucked-Up Life because he’s always whinging about how fucked up his life is—and I thought it would be better for him to write it all down instead of melting my ear.

“It was going great until I started my class at City College.”

“What are you taking?”

“Technical writing.”

“You mean like how to write instruction manuals?”

Piker nods. “I’m learning small print and it’s really interesting.”

“How so?”

“It’s a got a style all its own.”

“You mean like gobbledygook?” (That’s my experience with instructions for products made in China.)

Piker shakes his head. “No. We learn to get rid of excess words."

“I think cleaning out clutter applies to good writing in general. If a word doesn’t have a reason to exist, lose it.”

“Yeah, yeah!” Piker nods vigorously. “That’s what I’m learning!”

“I suggest less verbiage when talking to me as well.”

Piker looks past me, focuses on the twenty-something doll to my left, introduces himself.

Surprisingly, she engages, but Piker but falls short of offering her a drink, cheap bastard, might have kept the yak going.

She de-stools and Piker follows suit, chases her out for a phone number, returns triumphant.

“What about your girlfriend?” I postulate.


“You mean it’s not okay for a guy to hang out with her pig and post her an ode on Facebook but okay for you to a nail a number from a babe in a bar?”

“Uh… I don’t think…”

“It’s okay, Piker, I’m ribbing you. After three-plus years of no contact other than one phone call I think you’re well within your rights to cast out. But maybe talk to your shrink about double-standards.”


As Piker pulls out, Rino Jim jams in, if stools could talk.

Aloneness, my favorite mode, is not to be this night.

“I’ve got a great idea for a story,” says the Rino after ordering JD on the rocks.

“Let me guess: Parklets and bike lanes?”


“How’d you know?”

“Because last time I saw you it was parklets and bike lanes. And the time before that.”


“But they’re still around! And they’re a nuisance! Roads are for cars!”


“Don’t know if you noticed but parklets got cracked down on.”


“Parking’s still a problem.”


“It’s not a parklet problem, it’s an LA problem. And what we’re discovering is, LA is the city of devils, not angels.”


A perky gal introduces herself to us, tells the Rino she likes his black cowboy hat. Turns out she’s gay and likes it because the crown reminds her of a camel toe.

“What’s a camel toe?” Rino Jim asks her.

“Your new nickname,” I answer for her.

To celebrate, Camel Toe orders another JD on the rocks. When he pays to leave fifteen minutes later he can barely stand. I think maybe he’s suffering a stroke. But no, it’s old fashioned inebriation.

Management’s on it, they help him out. But after Camel Toe plunks himself behind the wheel of his car and ignites the engine, they call the cops—and tell me so.

I go out, switch off Camel Toe’s engine and snatch the key. “You can’t be sitting behind the wheel when the cops arrive,” I say.

He climbs out cursing—and falls down. Legless. We hoist him into the backseat.

SB’s finest arrive. Officer Crooks is professional and polite, ensures Camel Tow is alright from the fall he  took, offers bandages, a holding tank…

Camel Toe opts for a taxi home and Officer Crooks summons one, could not have been more convivial. (George Floyd should have moved to SB.)




Three days later Piker’s in a tizzy.

He’d called the gal from Honor Bar, she’d agreed to meet for a drink, then sent a qualifying text: Platonic, nothing more. Piker was hopeful for plutonium. But instead of replying “no problem” (cross that hiccup later), he responds with a rambling text that includes this gem: “On a purely clinical level I’d have to say that my psychosexual makeup is a tad unconventional compared to the norm.”

She immediately cancels with a text saying, “Gonna go with my gut on this one.”

So much for Piker’s technical writing lessons about scrubbing excess words, revert to My Fucked up Life.