Robin Wheeler writes for the blog Poppy Mom. She also has a strange attraction to drinking establishments with jars of pickled -- or possibly fossilized -- eggs. She reports on these dives for Gut Check every Friday.
I pulled up a bar stool to get to work at the Office
. A black-and-white cat the size of an obese panther hopped onto the bar and then flopped against my chest, belly-up and purring. I shouldn't feel special -- he did this to everyone. When he ran out of suckers at the bar, he meandered to the pool table to mooch some love from the three players.
At first, Bootz the Cat was the only friendly feature at the Office.
Bootz the Cat in Schrodinger's Box.
Gruff bartender. A leering pool player who snuck up behind me and told me to put his digits in my phone and call him later. A steady stream of people coming in to buy cold tallboys and pints of liquor packaged in reused Shop n' Save bags. I thought I'd drain my bottle of Bud (poured in a tiny glass, all ladylike) and scram.
But then the only other woman in the bar hit the jukebox and played Fantasia's "I Believe
," followed by a Mariah Carey song about believing in something.
Here we were, strangers in a dark, dusty tavern with a long crack down the middle of the floor, being uplifted by modern R&B. It got to me.
I believed I'd have another beer and take a turn at the jukebox.
I also believe I'm over my hatred of Internet jukeboxes. The Office has an early MP3 jukebox filled with mislabeled songs. My attempt to play The Clash's "I Fought the Law" in honor of an absent friend's birthday yielded "Lost in the Supermarket." Not a problem, but this isn't a place where you want to enter the numbers for Ike and Tina's "A Fool in Love" and get blindsided with Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman."
After a few jukebox hit-and-misses, I gave my remaining credits to the other woman, who danced and sang along with Tina while the boys played pool and Bootz snoozed. "You be careful," the bartender warned as I left, making this the most friendly office I've ever worked.