Thursday, October 13, 2011

The NIght Peerless Pete Threw Up


Have you ever started to sneeze and then ended up throwing up? Of course you haven't. Neither have I. But the question leads us inexorably to the night Peerless Pete threw up at the Peter McManus Cafe.

Lots of people at the PMC have nicknames. Bobby the Gravedigger; Bobby the Mailman; Grumpy Dave; 20th Street Dave; Dave with the attractive girlfriend; Dave with the hat (who is the same as Grumpy Dave); etc. And that's just the Bobs and Daves.

Me? I don't really have one. Geoff the painter, maybe. But since the reason for the nicknames is to differentiate people who share the same first name (because nobody knows anybody's last name), and nobody else in my particular circle of friends is named Geoff, I don't really need one. Although I do sometimes hear behind me, as I make my way to the bathroom, things like That Fucking Pantload or What An Ass. But these, technically, are descriptive phrases, not nicknames.

All of which leads us inexorably to the night Peerless Pete threw up. Peerless Pete, just so you know, is a fictitious name (no doubt subconsciously inspired by the work of Damon Runyon). Throwing up in a bar is embarrassing, and I don't want to further embarrass the guy who actually did it (who's a good guy and shit happens), so there you are.

The event unfolded more or less like this: Joined on several levels by The American Worker, I was collecting annotations at the Peter McManus Cafe on a warm Thursday night a couple of weeks ago, having arrived there from Zuccotti Park around 4:30 that afternoon. The first three hours and twenty-five minutes were uneventful. However, at 7:55 or so, John from Troy called me up and invited me to a party across town. At 7:56 I told him I didn't think I had the strength to make it all the way across town (which is code for being over-served, which is, in turn, code for being drunk). It was, let's say, eight on the nose when Peerless Pete, who was standing at the corner of the the bar known as Howie's Corner began to sneeze. Everything in slow motion now, so I guess it was 8:02 when he realized, mid-sneeze he didn't really have to sneeze but rather throw up (or, more likely, do some version of both). By 8:05 he had managed to turn his head violently away from the bar and towards the floor. By 8:10 somebody had shown up with a mop and cleaned the stuff up. In my head I could hear the jukebox playing the super-emo version of White Rabbit by Emiliana Torrini that showed up on the Sucker Punch soundtrack, although that could just have been in my head. And then it was over.

Actually it all took place in the blink of an eye. Me? I was fortunate to be three stools away. One stool closer was my buddy Lance. One stool closer still was my buddy Adam. Neither have nicknames.

Much like hand-grenades, collateral damage from episodes like this decreases as a function of distance. So I was unscathed. On the other side of the coin, Adam had a significant amount of wet substance sprayed across the back of his shirt. Lance appeared to be okay, but I quickly realized he was experiencing some version of post-traumatic depression.

Regarding the bar itself, there was considerable skepticism as to the integrity of our beverages. That is to say a kind of "Excuse me, but what's that floating in my drink?" sort of a concern. Johnny the Fireman wiped everything down and gave us new ones. Adam, as resourceful a soul as I know, said something like "I'm going to the men's room to change my shirt." Who, I then wondered, brings a change of shirts to a bar?

Anyway, we all calmed down after a while. Pete--embarrassed a bit, I believe--beat a hasty retreat. When I saw the anxiety on Lance's face, I took him to another bar where the drinks were significantly more expensive but there were a lot of really attractive girls. Which seemed to soothe him considerably.

Thank God I didn't leave the painting at the bar.


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